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Q: What is the certification upgrade deadline?

A: The last day to upgrade to a certificate is listed in the "Important Course Dates" section of the Course tab

Q: Is it too late to join the course?

A: No, the course is self-paced. We estimate the course at ~50 hours of instructional time total. Please keep this in mind when planning your work.

Q: What does "self-paced" mean?

A: "Self-paced" refers to one of the two primary course delivery formats offered through edX and HarvardX. Self-paced courses do not follow a set schedule. Instead, learners work through at their own pace.

Q: How long does the course take to complete?

A: We estimate the total instructional time for the ten-module course to be around 50 hours, including time spent on design projects. This is based on an estimate of 5 hours per module.

Q: When are exercises (assignments) due?

A: There are no specific assignment deadlines, but learners hoping to earn a verified certificate must do so by the official course end date.

Q: Why can't I access all of the course materials?

Some content in edX is available only to learners who have purchased a verified certificate. Locked content is marked with a lock icon, as shown to the right. Click the image to see a full-sized version. If you are using screen reader software, you will hear "Content available only to verified-track learners."

When you see this icon, it indicates there are one or more graded assignments on this page. Verified learners will be able to see and complete these assignments, which will count toward their certificate of completion.

NOTE: Graded exercises in Part 1 (the first four modules) have been provided for all learners. Starting in Part 2, graded exercises are available to verified track learners only. 

In addition, audit learners will lose access to the course after a certain number of weeks. The length of time varies by course, and is noted on the course signup page at This time is counted from when you enroll or from when the course begins, whichever is later. Verified learners retain course access indefinitely.

If you have questions, please use the Contact Us link here or at the bottom of the page.


Q: What grade do I need to earn in order to pass the course?

To pass the course, learners must earn a 60% or higher.

Q: How do I view my grade?

A summary of your performance in the course is available via the "Progress" tab.

Q: I am doing well on the assessments, but when I look under "Progress," I have a low grade. Why?

Your grade is calculated based on ALL of the assessments in the course, meaning those you have completed and those you have not yet completed. (EdX says you have a "zero" on those assessments until you have attempted them.) You will see your overall grade improve as you progress through the course.

Q: How do I view my grade?

A: Grades can be found under the Progress tab. 

Q: The Progress page is displaying "X" marks for certain assignments. What does that mean?

A: The Progress page will denote low scores that have been dropped using an "X." See the Syllabus page for a full explanation of course grading.


Q: Can I complete the assignments using a language other than English?

A: Yes, languages other than English can be used for the Self-Assessments. Ultimately, you are the evaluator of your work, so the method of response should be whatever allows you to learn best.


Q: I’m having trouble using the edX Open Response Assessment tool (ORA). What should I do?

A:  See the edX documentation for more info.

Q: I accidentally submitted my exercise response using the edX Open Response Assessment tool (ORA)? What should I do?

A: You cannot reset your response once you have submitted it. However, since all ORA tool-based exercises are self-assessments, the team advises completing the grading portion anyway (basing it on the full version that you were not able to submit). The record of the response is, mostly, for your archival purposes, so a local version will suffice. If necessary, the course team can reset an attempt if necessary.

Q: How do I upload a file using the edX Open Response Assessment tool (ORA)?

A: The upload-a-file option within the ORA tool has been disabled. None of the course exercises require you to upload a file. If an exercise includes a non-text-based component (a floor plan, a model), you are never required to include that component--just your text-based analysis of that component.

Q: I'm having trouble uploading images to the discussion board. What should I do?

A: The following brief tutorial discusses how to upload an image.


Q: How do I earn a verified certificate?

A: To be certificate eligible, a learner must upgrade to the certificate track via the edX dashboard. If you earn a grade of 60% or higher before the close of the course, then you will earn a certificate.

Q: Is there a free certificate?

A: EdX no longer offers a free certificate (formerly called "Honor Code" certificates).

Q: How do I upgrade to the verified certificate track?

A: Learners can upgrade from the edX dashboard (all courses view when you first sign in) or from the Home tab within the course. This edX help page describes the process

Q: How do I receive my certificate?

A: Certificates for self-paced courses are available on-demand once you’ve earned a passing grade. The option to generate the certificate will appear within the Progress page. Once the certificate has been generated, it will be available within the edX course dashboard. EdX does NOT mail or email certificates to learners.

Q: I have a question about verification or payment for certificates. Whom should I contact?

A: Contact edX using the online support form. The course team cannot resolve certificate issues on behalf of learners.

Q: What information is included on my certificate?

A: The edX verified certificate includes your name, the course name, the HarvardX logo, the edX logo, the course professor's name and signature, and the unique url for your web-based certificate. The certificate does NOT include your specific grade or any information about hours of instruction. 

Example of HarvardX certificate with HarvardX and edX logos, faculty signature, and course name

Q: How do I obtain a transcript of my verified course?

A: EdX and HarvardX do not offer course transcripts. Verified certificates can be used as proof of course completion. We recommend printing either the syllabus or the course About page if you need a record of the estimated instructional hours for the course.


Q: Is participating in discussion required?

A: No, all discussion opportunities are optional.


Q: How do I contact the course team?

A: Questions about the course should be submitted via the course discussion boards.